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Award makes a dent in nurse’s student debt

Mayra Ascencio thanks Manor of the Plains education assistance program for helping her achieve her educational dreams and pay off student loans.

Mayra Ascencio wasn’t sure she was going to get any further with her nursing education. While pursuing her pre-requisites and LPN certification, Mayra had accumulated thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Her own daughters were starting college. The bills looked insurmountable.

Then Mayra heard about an education assistance program to help employees at Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America pay off loans. She recently learned that her application was accepted.

“I am so grateful. There’s no words,” said Mayra, who works in the health care neighborhood at Manor of the Plains. “They’re probably never going to know how much it means to us.”

A large portion of Mayra’s loans will be paid off thanks to the assistance program. That’s a huge relief to her as a single mom now putting her own girls through school. Her older daughter graduated from the University of Kansas in May, and the other is an engineering major at KU.

Mayra was the first person in her family to earn a post-secondary degree, and her daughter is the first to graduate from a university -- with a bachelor of science in nursing, following in both her mother’s career footsteps and her grandmother’s. Mayra’s mother was a nurse in Mexico.

Mayra became a CMA in 2006, and it took her 10 years to graduate from nursing school. Her debt load grew quickly when she was required to be a full-time student, leaving little time to work. “I never really knew how hard it was going to be. I never knew I was going to get that far, little by little, passing one class and passing the next.”

However, Mayra has always believed in the power of education and the benefit it brings to the world at large. She told her daughters that college was mandatory; their only choice was what to study. “I’m one of those people who annoys everybody around them, telling them to go to school,” she said. “It’s possible if you work hard for what you want. I wanted it really bad, and I wanted to show the girls that they can, so when they went to college they didn’t have an excuse.”

It’s been about a year and a half since Mayra started working at Manor of the Plains -- and she loves it. Providing end-of-life comfort care is especially meaningful to her, because her own mother was in a coma for several years before her death.

“When I take care of residents, I want to make sure that the care is provided not just for resident but also the family,” she said.

With a large amount of her debt paid off, Mayra hopes return to school sooner for advanced training. She’s happy to give back to Manor of Plains after being given so much. “It makes my goals seem a little closer.”

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